I am Rod Wynne-Powell, and this is my way to pass on snippets either of a technical nature, or related to what I am currently doing or hope to be doing in the near future.

A third-person description follows:
Professional photographer, Lightroom and Photoshop Workflow trainer, Consultant, digital image retoucher, author, and tech-editor for Martin Evening's many 'Photoshop for Photographers' books.

For over twenty years, Rod has had a client list of large and small companies, which reads like the ‘who’s who’ of the imaging, advertising and software industries. He has a background in Commercial/Industrial Photography, was Sales Manager for a leading London-based colour laboratory and has trained many digital photographers on a one-to-one basis, in the UK and Europe.
Still a pre-release tester for Adobe in the US, for Photoshop, he is also very much involved in the taking of a wide range of photographs, as can be seen in the galleries.

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Monday, 5 September 2011

Bletchley Park Visit

I had made up my mind that despite the poor weather forecast for Sunday, a visit to the home of British Codebreakers during the Second World War was worth a trip since Lottery money had enabled some well-needed restoration. I set off in light drizzle, but by the time I arrived the tap was far more fully open. Outside I needed the warmth and the protection, but once inside, I needed neither, and taking my leather jacket off was impractical with my camera bag to carry as well!

Parking was being organised I am presuming from their ages, Air Cadets – I didn’t relish their task! Having bought my ticket, I headed for the hut displaying the Bombe, though looking at the gallery, my chronology has been sacrificed to offer a better introduction. The demonstration and explanation of the processes involved was very ably put across by some very knowledgable volunteers, and this encouraged lively audience involvement, as they explained how those who worked these machines relied as much on technicalities as human foibles to reduce the time the Bombes took to arrive at a decrypt of the transmissions from the German Enigma operators. We were looking at just one machine, it was explained that many more were working in the same room in their day.

Beyond this demonstration was a museum of various cypher machines Enigmas, and others. But for me the most striking exhibit was the statue to Alan Turing built from tiny slivers of slate, which I felt really captured the features of the great man’s face in a unique way. As a result I was not satisfied by taking just one picture, but several; I hope the sculptor, Stephen Kettle is pleased by my efforts.

During the course of this visit I came across no less than three ladies who had played their part in the work of gathering or processing this information for Bletchley Park. One such lady said they were told their ‘Y’-station reports were taken by despatch riders to Bletchley Park, however, she learnt that was not in fact the case – their signals were in fact passed via a Teleprinter terminal direct to one of the huts here, I have forgotten which hut it was she said.
I later listened intently to another ‘Y’-station operator, and learned another surprising fact as she demonstrated she could still read Morse today having stopped way back at the end of the War, and that was that though she qualified to read at 18-words per minute and had been capable of 28 or more, she never tapped a key at all! Also, which must have made it harder still, she never once listened to plaintext, it was always in blocks of five characters, so no guessing was available to help her, nor would she ever learn how accurate were records had been.
This lady, known as A253, was Merris Wood and she delighted the crowd of men in the small marquee for the Vintage Radio Society by her reminisces of her work and the equipment she had used; this sort of encounter made their day. Later I was to meet another operator chatting to a BBC Outside Broadcast team who were there to cover a program called the Code Breakers telling the story of Lorenz and Colossus, which sadly lost only a week ago, the leader of the restoration team Tony Sales. I visited the Colossus demonstration put on by a charismatic girl in a black hat who confidently spoke as if she had been there at the time (maybe she had just stepped from the Doctor’s Tardis, earlier that morning?!)

In the last long hut I visited, were the stories of the brave crew of HMS Petard who sadly died when capturing the Enigma machine from the crippled U-boat, U559. The two sailors, Colin Grazier and Tony Fasson did not receive their due mention because of the secrecy surrounding that capture, until many years after the end of the War; they were caught out by the sudden inrush of water that marked the end of the submarine.

When I came out of this hut, the rain had stopped and the sun was out thinly. A fitting end to a very enjoyable day.

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